Captivating Color Combinations By Vaughn Fletcher

These designer baskets provided superior visual impact at the Costa Farms trial garden this year.

I visited the Costa Farms spring trial in Florida during week 11 to evaluate the development and progression of annuals, perennials, and combination baskets from planting to maturity. In preceding articles I highlighted 2021 annual introductions; in this article, I describe the most outstanding and colorful designer combinations in the basket trial that resulted in the greatest visual impact.

The current and new trial basket recipes were planted week 50, moved to the full sun exposure area week 7, and by week 11 the characteristics and attributes of each recipe were clearly demonstrated, including compatibility, component balance and timing, vigor, floriferousness and heat tolerance.

Proven Winners

Proven Winners mix

This is a combination of impatiens ‘Rockapulco Orange Improved’, ipomoea ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Lime’ and coleus ‘Colorblaze Chocolate Drop’. This is an interesting and unconventional mixture of textures, mass, foliage shapes and colors. It was trialed in a full sun exposure but is adaptable for partial to full shade. The growth habits of the three components were similar, the basket had bulk and size, and the transitional green coloration of the coleus and ipomoea contrasted beautifully with the orange impatiens. These components are in many of the Proven Winners shaded patio recipes. Every combination that the Proven Winners team selects for the Bundled Kit program has been trialed and tested in regional trials. This recipe will be in the Bundled Kit program for 2021.

Proven Winners

My first thought when I saw this recipe was, “Wow!” This combination is a carnival of color, and it evokes warmth and energy. It is a combination of three components: calibrachoa ‘Superbells Tropical Sunrise’, petunia ‘Supertunia Honey’ and scaevola ‘Whirlwind Pink’. The varieties are well matched in timing, vigor and balance. This is a National Recipe for 2021 and will receive a focused program of marketing and promotion.


There are numerous adjectives to describe the calibrachoa Chameleon series, including polychromatic, iridescent and vivacious. There are now over 16 varieties in the collection and four new introductions for 2021. Enchantmint is composed of ‘Chameleon Lavender Sorbet’, ‘Chameleon Pink Diamond’ and Fancifiller satureja ‘Indian Mint’. The Fancifiller program began in 2016 with the award-winning helichrysum ‘Silverstar’, and Westhoff has added many new and unique foliage varieties as components for fillers and spillers. ‘Indian Mint’ is fragrant and offers a small white flower as it matures and weaves its way through the combination and eventually cascades. The calibrachoa Chameleons in this recipe are top sellers in the collection. Enchantmint is part of the Westhoff Passion Combo collection consisting of 18 classic and 20 new combinations for 2021.

Selecta One

Selecta Trixi mix

This Duo Trixi monoculture combination of calibrachoas ‘MiniFamous Uno PlumTastic’ and ‘MiniFamous Uno Dark Blue’ was new for 2020 and received a twopage spread in the 2020 Selecta One catalog. Both calibrachoa varieties were new for 2020 and provided striking contrast in the trial. The deep blue color of Uno Dark Blue combined with the bicolor pink and white Uno PlumTastic created an exceptional striking combination. Last year I wrote about the outstanding performance of Uno Double PinkTastic and OrangeTastic in summer trials. ‘MiniFamous Neo Double PlumTastic’ will be introduced for 2021. The Tastic group of calibrachoas has excellent color retention, double flower stability and are components in many of the Trixi recipes.


This Suntory Mixer combines petunia ‘Surfinia Heartbeat Improved’ and the new ‘Surfinia Purple Heart’ for 2021. These two novelty Surfinia varieties offer the heat tolerance of the Surfinia petunia series but with bicolor flowers and a more compact and mounded habit. Petunia ‘Surfinia Heartbeat’ has improved color stability and pattern retention for 2021. The new petunia ‘Surfinia Purple Heart’ has a striking and defined purple and white bicolor flower. These two varieties were well matched in the basket trial with a tight, controlled habit. Suntory offers 16 Mixers that incorporate petunia Surfinia, calibrachoa Million Bells, scaevola Surdiva, bidens Beedance and catharanthus Soiree Kawaii.

Dümmen Orange

This is one of the most popular Confetti Trio mixes, combining the calibrachoa Aloha Kona varieties: Mango, Cherry Red and Royal White. The Aloha Kona series is used as the calibrachoa component in many of the Confetti Garden recipes. The Konas are a major player in the calibrachoa market with many attributes, including: day length neutrality, uniformity, flower size, semi-upright habit, production versatility and a wide range of colors. In the trial, this combination provided vivid contrasting colors, a controlled and mounded habit, and matched flower timing.

Selecta One

Sky’s the Limit combines the popular petunia ‘Headliner Night Sky’ with ‘Headliner Sky Blue’ and ‘Headliner White’. This is new for 2021 and is the first Trixi with a petunia Sky component. This was one of my favorite recipes in the trial. The Headliner colors created a versatile and harmonious pattern with balance, uniformity and floriferousness. There are over 20 colors in the mid-sized Headliner petunia series, including the new Crystal Sky and Electric Purple Sky.

Selecta One

This is a unique and striking Duo Trixi introduction for 2020 that combines calibrachoa ‘MiniFamous Neo OrangeTastic’ and ‘MiniFamous Uno Double Red’. This is a combination of two different series that differ in vigor but blend perfectly for timing, balance and flower count. The saturated flower color of Uno Double Red accentuates the ruffled orange petals and red centers of Double OrangeTastic. I have highlighted the outstanding heat tolerance and double flower stability of the Tastic collection in earlier articles. This is a compelling and stunning Trixi that was in spring programs this season and is definitely a Trixi recipe for consideration in future programs.

Ball FloraPlant

Ball FloraPlant MixMaster

The idea of combining a series or specific coleus in a monoculture combination basket is a recent development in the marketplace. This has emerged with the breeding of coleus that are uniform, low maintenance, late flowering, compact and manifest striking foliage, both solid and multicolored. The FlameThower coleus series was introduced in 2015 and now comprises 10 varieties, including Cajun Spice, for 2021. I have written about the summer performance of multiple FlameThrower varieties in previous articles, and many of them are now components in the five MixMaster mono Sun & Shade combos. This series has characteristics that set it apart including lanceolate and serrated foliage, multicolored color retention, bold textures and versatility. The benefits of the FlameThrowers include later flowering, sun and shade tolerance, and adaptability in different production programs including quarts, gallons, mixed containers and baskets. These Sun & Shade combinations offer an alternative to ferns and other foliage varieties in basket production.

Green Fuse Botanicals

I try not to repeat designer recipes from previous articles, but this mono combination of calibrachoas ‘Cruze Control Grape Delicious’, ‘Cruze Control Orange’ and ‘Cruze Control Yellow’ was a top performer and summer survivor in the southern trials last summer, and it replicated that performance in the Costa trial this year. The Cruze Control series comprises 19 colors for 2021 including four new varieties. The attributes of this series include day length neutrality, a controlled and mounded growth habit, dark centers, and a consistently colorful canopy. We have a plethora of calibrachoa series for various spring programs and the Cruze Controls, based on the tidy growth habit, heat tolerance and floriferousness, offer a manageable and uniform option. This series is a component in many of the Green Fuse Botanicals collection of Compatible designer recipes.


The calibrachoa Calipetites are comprised of six colors, including Yellow Improved for 2021. It is an extremely versatile, day length neutral, and naturally compact series. The short internodes and mounded habit creates applicability in a multitude of spring programs including quarts, color bowls, mixed containers and baskets. One of the most impressive and important attributes is the floriferous canopy that produces a bouquet form, maintains its tight center, is non stretching, and provides extended shelf life and successful retail sell through. The series is interspecific and manifests outstanding durability and resilience, resulting in excellent summer performance. The Calipetite components in the trial baskets are Pink, White and Yellow Improved.

Proven Winners

This is a new recipe for 2021 and is part of the Bundled Combination program. Proven Winners — as well as many other breeders — enter, trial and evaluate each potential combination in private and public trials before adding to future programs.This stringent trialing has led to the introduction of many significant designer mixes that are used throughout the industry. I am excited about Misty Seas, which incorporates the Supertunia petunias Mini Vista Indigo, Mini Vista Violet Star and Mini Vista White. Mini Vista White reflects the most light, and this brightness accents the Purple and Violet creating a harmonious blend. In previous articles I have described the incredible summer performance of the Mini Vista series. These varieties stand the test of time in the gardens and provide durability, flower stability, heat tolerance and incredible floriferousness. Spring programs include quarts, mixed containers and baskets.


This Suntory Mixer was added to the program in 2018 and has been in many regional basket trials the past two years for good reason. This Mixer includes scaevolas ‘Surdiva Blue Violet’, ‘Surdiva Fashion Pink’ and ‘Surdiva White Improved’. The classic Surdivas were introduced in 2010 followed by the compact Surdiva series in 2016 and the new scaevola ‘Surdiva Purple’ for 2021. This unquestionably is the most uniform and compact scaevola series in the market, and this Mixer demonstrates those attributes. The varieties are densely branched, possess uniform timing, and are non stretching, early flowering, and versatile in a range of container programs including quarts, mixed containers, and baskets. This combination will continue to flower throughout the summer season and maintain its tight habit and durability.

Proven Winners

This recipe is one of the best sellers in the Bundled Combination program. It combines petunia ‘Supertunia Bordeaux’, calibrachoa ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ and lobelia ‘Sky Blue Improved’. These components were well balanced, demonstrated consistent timing and were floriferous. This basket was grown in full sun exposure, and I was impressed by the heat tolerance and vigor of lobelia ‘Sky Blue Improved’. This variety has larger flowers with improved flower stability and heat tolerance, and it manifested those attributes in the trial. Petunia ‘Supertunia Bordeaux’ is one of the best sellers in the petunia portfolio with deep purple venation and light purple petals. Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ is incomparable for its unique pattern and possesses outstanding garden performance.

Vaughn Fletcher

Vaughn Fletcher is president of Fletcher Consulting. He has been in the horticulture industry since 1971, working in many areas including landscaping, garden center and greenhouse production, greenhouse and nursery sales and sales management. He can be reached at